Mobile games are not exactly what come to mind when you think of Video Games, let alone games for hardcore gamers. Well, that’s what I thought too, until I recently got a flagship and started exploring smartphone games. And, guess what, I was pleasantly surprised. By which I mean, I truly felt like a proper idiot for underestimating how rich, immersive and enjoyable mobile games can be.
So if you are a non-believer in mobile games, let this list change your mind and make you think otherwise!
Thomas Was Alone
Everything starts out with Thomas. A rogue artificial intelligence in a program gone awry, Thomas unexpectedly gains consciousness in a foreign land. Slowly, he becomes cognizant of his abilities. He can slide across the ground, fall dizzying heights without taking a scratch, and hop over moderate obstacles. It’s not much, but the stages he finds himself in gradually grow more complex, forcing him to jump with more precision or worm his way up foreboding passageways. Once he orients himself with his surroundings, he happens upon a friend, and Thomas is no longer alone.
Every new character you meet in the adventure is either a square or a rectangle, each sporting different abilities you have to harness.
Strong writing creates strong bonds. Narration plays out during the action, so you listen to a voice-over explaining the mind-set of one or more of the characters as you jump up platforms and avoid spikes. At times you laugh, such as when modern games are unexpectedly evoked after one of the characters taps into a mainframe, but mostly you get absorbed in their stories.
Short and sweet without any filler, Thomas Was Alone is a worthwhile experience that rises above its basic mechanics to prove heartfelt and engaging in unexpected ways.
If you like Fez and Journey, think no further, get this game! If that doesn’t convince you already (what’s wrong with you?), then let me tell you more.
In Monument Valley, you play as the silent princess. You have to navigate through various levels, with your main means of interaction being the ability to rotate the perspective or turn certain parts of the stage around. Though things appear to be three-dimensional, you cannot trust your eyes. If a piece is connecting to another piece, even if it seems like it should be impossible in 3D terms, the pieces are considered connected. If you’ve ever played Echochrome or Fez, you’ll know what to expect here.
The game consists entirely of these traversal puzzles, which are challenging enough, while also ensuring that you get the time to enjoy the sights, sounds, and story.
There’s quite a lot to enjoy in that regard. Monument Valley is almost impossibly gorgeous. No one stage looks like any other stage, and even within the stages themselves, the look and feeling of the paths you walk can change very quickly. Every screenshot you take in-game is worthy of being a wallpaper.
The story itself is sort of subdued. You get little snippets here occasionally by text, and the title cards for each stage tell a lot, but much of it must be pieced together by carefully observing and thinking about the symbolism of things playing out in front of you.
If you want a game that more than just a game, but instead an experience, then be sure to pick up Monument Valley.
Lara Croft GO
Square Enix has been doing a great job of bringing their classic franchises to mobiles. With games like Final Fantasy and Hitman already getting an excellent do-over on mobiles, it’s only expected that they wouldn’t go wrong with Lara Croft GO. And, they didn’t!
Lara Croft GO manages to capture the spirit of Lara’s classic PSX-era adventures and repackage them into something fresh, great looking, and surprisingly classy.
The early levels of Lara Croft Go have you controlling our heroine – clad in her trademark blue tank and shorts – tile-by-tile through a series of stony ruins teaching you how to move, activate levers, and maneuver around individual dangers and enemies to reach the end goal. The stakes ramp up at a comfortable pace as the stages go on, introducing deadly combinations of everything you’ve encountered.
These include bottomless pits, snakes that strike anything one tile in front of them, giant lizards that follow Lara around, huge, patrolling arachnids, boulders, traps, and more. Each element succeeds as a callback to memorable set pieces from old Tomb Raider games, but also as significant components in the treacherous obstacle courses that make up Lara Croft Go’s puzzles.
Eventually, you get to a point where the game’s got all this complicated stuff going on and it’s just all about the application of the skills you’ve attained so far. This is how game progression should work: constantly challenging, but constantly teaching and testing you.
Lara Croft Go feels like a classic Tomb Raider experience, with its sense of adventure and mystery finely distilled into an endearing, scaled-down format.
Republique follows a young girl named Hope who lives in an oppressive totalitarian regime. You guide her movements to escape by watching through the system’s cameras and the occasional video call. As you progress through the sprawling complex, you learn about a vast conspiracy . Suffice it to say, the story, writing, and character acting are all top notch, and significantly raise the bar for what we can expect from mobile games.
And so begins Republique, with a sense of supreme disquiet and a constant, ongoing bewilderment. It’s that bewilderment that drives the game onward and keeps you guessing episode after episode through a mystery that’s all too reluctant to hand out easy answers.
Needless to say, the world of Republique is meant to immerse, to beckon the your curiosity, and to involve you enough in the city-state’s ins and outs to get Hope, our frightened girl, out of danger.
Like this list? Know some games that we missed out? Let us know in the comments below! For more news and reviews, keep checking back Gaming Central.